Ok, so it has been a week or more since I last posted and prior to that, I had been posting every couple of days. My apologies to my handful of followers ;-) I know this was important to you.
At any rate, the reason for my silence has been that we've been moving to a different house (same city) and that kind of messes with your writing schedule.
What happened was that on a Monday, we found out that we needed to move by Friday. So, Monday was taken up with paperwork and formalities, Tuesday I had to work (I substitute teach, so my schedule is fairly volatile) and so we really moved in three days. If you've ever had to move much, you know that this was a crunch. I counted while talking with a great friend of mine during one of our many trips in the truck and I think I've moved houses or cities something like 8 times before I graduated high school and then another 7 times after. Needless to say, I'm getting good at this. Unfortunately, virtuosity in moving all of your worldly possessions does not ease the stress and frustrations that come along with it.
Here's what I learned this time around:
1. Practicing Grace is Hard
I know this comes as a surprise, but having grace in stressful situations is hard. All sarcasm aside, I think it is a little silly how, when life is comfortable, we have no problem talking about how Christians ought to have grace in conflict, but at 12:30 am after a long day of moving, wrangling children and dealing with financial strain and after your spouse has spent 8+ hours at work, on her feet, talking with clients all day....grace is a little more difficult to demonstrate and even harder still to talk about. As soon as that grace word is out, I'm instantly convicted of my short temper and harsh responses to innocent questions. But! This is where one really discovers if grace is a part of ones daily language and rhythm or if you (like me) have been doing more lip-service than practice.
2. Given Enough Space and Time, People are Gatherers.
I'm not a hoarder. In fact, I personally love to live simply and not have random things just laying around. For example, my wife will attest to the fact that I do not now (and probably never will) understand the complex purposes of the "throw pillow". It is an intellectual conundrum; a mystery really. But even given my aversion to collecting junk, it was incredible to find how much stuff we had collected. See, we moved from a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 2 story house into a single-level, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house. The drastic change in available room forced something that has probably been the most refreshing: Purge. Just to give you a taste, we gave away something like 6 bags of toys in great condition, 4-5 bags of quality clothing/coats, sold a weight machine and couch among other things...It's just incredible how much we had and didn't need. I think that this one is simply a reminder to me and whoever wants to accept it to be conscious of what we have and what we need. I believe everyone can probably give away more than they do. I know this is generally true of how I have been living.
3. People Will Surprise You
I know that this seems pretty much like common sense, but it was an incredible week in which more than once, I had a handful of guys ready and willing to do some heavy lifting (talking about lifting an outdoor play set up and over a 7 foot fence) at something like 7 pm (for those readers that are not in Kansas, this is well after the sun has gone down). It was not only incredible that people were willing to do this, but who was willing to do this. I've known a couple of these guys less than a year and hung out with others maybe twice in the entirety of our acquaintance. Still, many stepped up to help unexpectedly. I don't want to spend too much time on the counter-point, but there were also many I thought who would make last week easier who, in fact made it more difficult or didn't show at all. Now, I'm not angry with or bitter towards any of these, mind you. People have lives and things come up, but it was surprising nonetheless. The take away on this point is that all humans are somewhat inconsistent -- for better or worse -- so we ought not hang too much on our expectations and learn to be flexible, grateful and forgiving in all situations, especially stressful ones.
That's not nearly all of what I experienced in the last week and I wish I could show it all to you, but it would be too much for a blog. Instead, let me encourage you with this:
What Got Me Through
The one thing that carried me during the most stressful week of 2014 thus far was the practice of finding space in the chaos. I'm talking about internal space; room in my inner man where I could breathe deep, remember that Christ is my sustenance and press on. Life will be surprising, trying and bountiful; what we have to do is remember that relationships hold more value than anything else and that one relationship -- with God -- can make crucible events in life into more than just painful episodes.
Can you relate? Tell me about it in the comments!